Summit Land Conservancy to purchase rights for Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road
Organization needs to raise $5.6 million to save farm
The Summit Land Conservancy is kicking off a campaign to raise $5.6 million to save the revered Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road in the Snyderville Basin.
The organization has entered into an agreement with the Osguthorpe family to purchase a $14.2 million conservation easement to preserve the farm, which is adjacent to Willow Creek Park, from development.
The 158-acre property is recognized in the Snyderville Basin General Plan as the last heritage ranch on Old Ranch Road and is considered the “heart of the Basin,” according to Cheryl Fox, executive director of Summit Land Conservancy. The general plan defines heritage amenities as: past and present agricultural operations, among others. The plan further recognizes those operations as a significant and important use of the land and encourages protection of those uses through several means, including conservation easements.
“This property is flat, dry and on Old Ranch Road. It really is the heart of the Basin and if this property were to be developed it would have a huge impact,” Fox said. “The development rights are incredibly valuable because it is in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Park City. Large-lot developments are a hot ticket right now.”
Summit Land Conservancy has secured an $8.7 million federal grant toward the purchase. Fox said it is one of the largest federal contributions toward a conservation easement ever made in Utah.
“One of the things that is really important is that we are really leveraging the local dollars,” Fox said. “If we are going to save $20 million worth of land with $ 5.6 million of local money, your $1 contribution here will save $4 worth of land.”
Fox said the organization has approached the Snyderville Basin Open Space Advisory Committee about a potential contribution. Additionally, Fox said the organization will also seek funding from Park City and Summit County.
The development rights for the farm are worth $17.7 million. The Osguthorpe family has taken $3.5 million off the total purchase price to retain rights to the house that is already on the property.
“They are doing it because that is what makes the transaction possibly there is no other way to save this property and keep making their living as ranchers,” Fox said. “The Osguthorpes have a legacy that they are trying to protect. This is their business and livelihood.”
The Osguthorpe family has owned property in Park City since the 1940s, Fox said. They continue to manage 178,000 acres around Park City. In 2012, a conservation easement was placed on their 121-acre ranch adjacent to Round Valley with the help of more than 200 individual donors, Park City Municipal, Summit County, the State of Utah and private foundations, she added.
“We did a contract with them in 2010 and 2012 in Round Valley. We always said, ‘If you want to do another one let us know.’ About a year ago they said, ‘We are ready,’” Fox said. “We always knew this property was important to the community from our own outreach and surveys.”
Fox said the development of the Osguthorpe Farm would greatly impact the Basin, particularly Old Ranch Road. She said it could affect views, recreational experiences, traffic and, most importantly, the East Canyon Creek.
“People who ride their bikes on Old Ranch Road and people skiing at the Canyons look out at this. People in Park City look down on it and, of course, the Old Ranch Road neighborhood would most clearly feel the impact,” Fox said. “We have never had the opportunity to bring in so much outside funding for a project like this. I think it’s really exciting and I hope the community will rally around this. I’d hate to see that $8.7 million sent back to Washington, D.C., because we couldn’t muster $5.6 million.”
In a press release, Steve Osguthorpe stated: “Conservation means the wise use of our natural resources.”
“We look at ourselves as the stewards of the land, and if we take care of it, it will take care of us,” Osguthorpe said.
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The Coalville native doesn’t see any major roadblocks for this year’s fair, though presenting in front of the County Council is a little nerve wracking.